the souls – damien hirst at paul stolper

10 October 2010 § Leave a comment

Whatever you think of Mr Hirst, there is one thing for sure – he is not going to fade away. His latest exhibition opened last week to reveal some 340 different butterflies (not all on display), each in signed editions of 15 – a grand total of some 5,100 prints. At £3,000 (plus VAT) a pop it is not a bad return for the bad boy of British Art but, on the other hand, it is a relatively modest outlay to get your hands on an attractive original Hirst. It will not make anyone a fast buck, but should also hold its modest value reasonably well. 

For someone who suffers from mild Lepidopterphobia (roughly translated as a fear of butterflies), it was with more than a little trepidation that I made my way to the Paul Stolper gallery in a beautiful Bloomsbury Street for the opening of The Souls by Damien Hirst last week. Thankfully my fears were alleviated as soon as I stepped into the beautiful pale, bright room containing floor to ceiling white frames encasing hypnotic shimmering butterflies.

As this was an exhibition of editioned prints, I was prepared for feelings of cynicism but was actually most surprised at how much I genuinely liked them. The four different shapes of butterfly together with the kaleidoscope of 84 different colour combinations were overwhelmingly beautiful. The foil-blocking of each butterfly has been done in three stages and then the base colour print received two more iridescent layers which highlight the detail on the patterned wing or body. Some butterflies comprise three colours, some two and others just one. The striking thing about each however, is that the image changes depending on where you’re standing. Even a matt wing glitters if you move an inch or two to the right or left.

Grouped in sets of four, the layout is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Flowers exhibition first displayed in 1964. You choose a favourite and then upon walking around the gallery, immediately your choice has been superseded with a new favourite – impossible! I expected to stay ten minutes and instead, remained for an hour just gawking at these objects of immense beauty and fragility.

Hirst was as usual confronting the balances between life and death. I, on the other hand, was confronting my secret admiration for these elegant insects. In fact I would love to buy a print if only I could decide which one.

Lost Souls runs until 13 November 2010.

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